Effective Research Communication for Scientific Audiences


In this webinar, members of the ECN learned how to effectively engage scientific audiences and elevate research impact, with specific focus on obesity. Dr Baker gave advice to attendees on the development of compelling messaging tailored to scientific communities, including discussion of visual abstracts, posters, and oral presentations. Dr Baker covered the importance of storytelling to captivate audiences, pointers on mastering clarity in communications materials, audience targeting and engagement as well as major “Dos and don’ts”. More information here: https://easo.org/early-career-network-webinar-effective-research-communication-for-scientific-audiences/


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All right, welcome everyone. We'll slowly get started. So welcome to another EASO ECN e-learning hub.

Thank you for joining us. My name is Bram Berntse and I'm one of the EASO ECN board members and today I'm joined by four other board members, Lisa, Fulja, Elif and Emil. And today's webinar will be on effective research communication for scientific audiences.

And you'll learn about the importance of storytelling and how to improve clarity when communicating, tailoring your communication to resonate with your peers and you'll get some expert tips for effective engagement. So some house rules for today as always. So just note that the webinar is being recorded and the recording and everything that we will share during the session will also be shared afterwards.

We will leave about 15 minutes for the Q&A so you can share your questions whenever in the chat or you can wait for the end and raise your virtual hand and you can then use the microphone to ask your question personally. Just know this is an informal setting so during the Q&A it would be nice if you can have your camera on and ask your question. So before I introduce our speaker, Lisa, would you like to share some upcoming events and deadlines? Sure, thanks Bram.

Hi everyone, thanks for joining the webinar today. I'm Lisa just like Bram said and I'm just going to spend a couple of minutes telling you about upcoming events and also deadlines which are relevant to the ECN that you should be aware of and look out for. So first up we've got the European Congress on Obesity ECO 2024 which this year is held in Venice on the 12th to 15th of May.

If you've not already submitted an abstract there's still time because late rape king abstracts are welcomed until the 20th of February. If you need to register early bird registration is until the 29th of February. So for the Best Thesis Award 2024 which many of you will know about, we have a special event in the Congress schedule and you're really invited to come along and join us for that if you are attending ECO.

Thank you to all of the people who applied to the Best Thesis Award 2024 and for anyone who doesn't know the people who are selected as the top three applicants are invited to come present their research at ECO. So if you are one of the top three you will be notified before the end of the early bird registration so anyone who doesn't quite make the cut this year can still have time to register during that period. The next event is World Obesity Day 2024 and that's fast approaching because it's held throughout Europe and globally on the 4th of March.

World Obesity Day is a global campaign which serves to raise awareness, promote advocacy, enhance policies and facilitate the sharing of experiences in the field of obesity. So you're invited to join EASO's webinar which is focused on the latest updates in obesity medicine. It's going to be held at 6 till 8 p.m central European time on World Obesity Day again the 4th of March in collaboration with Wonka Europe which is the World Organization of Family Doctors.

You can find the sign up link on the main landing page of the EASO website so please do have a look at that if you're interested in joining. And already we're going to talk about the next ECN webinar which is held on due to be held on the 19th of March at the same time as today and Dr Jimena Ramos-Salas is going to guide us through person first language, weight bias and its impact on research. If you come along you're going to learn about weight bias in general and receive an in-depth introduction to this topic and learn how this can negatively affect your research.

There's going to be discussions on person first language and its importance in respectful communication and also exploration of how language choices can shape perceptions and help address obesity stigma. Look out for the link across EASO's website and social medias if you do want to come along to this session. I think that's me for now so I'll hand back to Bram to introduce Jen and the rest of the today's webinar.

Thanks. Thanks Lisa. So just to be clear today is the last day for late breaking abstracts for ECO so if you still want to submit you have to do it today.

But yeah so it's my pleasure to introduce Dr Jennifer Baker. She's the head of life course epidemiology at the Center for Clinical Research and Prevention University of Copenhagen Hospital Bispebjerg at Frederiksberg in Denmark. Dr Jennifer Baker is an expert on the causes and consequences of body size and growth in childhood with a particular emphasis on childhood obesity.

Today she will talk about how to effectively engage with scientific audiences and elevate your research impact by discussing visual abstracts posters and oral presentations among other things. So thank you so much for joining Jennifer. The floor is yours.

Great thank you. I'm going to share my slides. It'll take two seconds to get to the full screen mode.

Great. So we're talking about effective communication. It's really important to think what we're up against.

Did you know that the average smartphone user looks at it at least 85 times per day? That means when you're giving your presentation or when you're communicating there's chances you're competing with these smartphones out there. Today what I'm going to do is tell you a few tips and techniques on how we as scientists can effectively communicate and actually compete a little bit with a smartphone usage and if we can't get everybody to put their phones down during our talks well at least we can help ensure that they take pictures of our slides to take away our main messages. So I'm Jennifer Baker and as Bram nicely introduced I work in life course epidemiology.

I'm here today because I've been giving presentations for quite a few years so I want to share with you what I've learned across this time. First and foremost we are part of EASO so it's incredibly important how we speak about obesity. Obesity is a disease.

Per international definitions so it's an abnormal and or excessive accumulation of body fat that presents a risk to health. Bearing this in mind it's incredibly important that we use people first language and of course you can attend a seminar in a few weeks and learn a really in-depth lesson about this. But let's keep in mind it's standard practice for other diseases.

For example we say people with diabetes not diabetics so this is not an unusual way to speak. And people first language applies to obesity and it's recommended and are required by international organizations. Further it's important how we show obesity.

We need to show people with positive attitudes engaging activities and importantly to make it really easy for us to do this there are free resources out there. EASO has a lovely website that you can go to and here's the link and maybe it can be shared in the chat because I really encourage you to take a look at this and start using this imagery in your presentations. So that little side step why is good communication important? Why do we want to invest the time in this? We've done the research we've written the papers why do we need to take this next step? Well it's really important so that you can ensure the clarity and the accuracy of your message.

We deal with complex topics so it's really important that we have the ability to explain them in a way which people can understand and then incorporate and learn from. Furthermore good communication establishes your professionalism and therefore your credibility. In science a lot of what we do is based upon our reputation.

Using effective communication techniques will actually encourage this and help us go along. And finally it's important to use good communication so that we can influence outcomes. We do our research for a purpose in many of our cases is to improve the lives of people living with obesity.

If we can effectively communicate our messages we're more likely to be able to influence policymakers and so on and so forth so that we can achieve the outcomes we want. Now we talk about scientific presentations and we heard a lot about the upcoming European Congress on Obesity. There's really two main types.

One is the lecture. It's when you go up in front of the audience either is based upon a submitted abstract which of course that deadline ends today if you didn't hear that already. So the key here is you're given a time slot.

Your format is pretty set. You have anywhere typically from 7 to 12 minutes depending upon the format in which you need to present all that work you've been doing so so much for the last year or two you have to say all that in 7 to 12 minutes. That's a real challenge.

Alternately maybe you have an invited talk but again the formats of these vary as well. They can be anywhere from 20 minutes to you know almost an hour. So how do you fill this time effectively? But furthermore another really common way of presenting at conferences is the poster.

So with the poster you are standing next to a board. Oftentimes you've carried it there on the airplane in a long tube. We know how it goes but things are changing.

So these presentations are moving over to a more graphical format and they're actually moving to screens. And what's really interesting to me right now these two types of presentations are actually starting to merge and become a bit more of a hybrid even whereby a lot of the presentations we're doing on posters these days are actually you giving a talk about your poster. So how can we harness what we know about effective communication regardless of the format we're assigned? So where do you begin? Where do you start in this whole process? Number one, find out that presentation format and so importantly the time limits.

So depending upon the format of the presentation that really determines how much information you can present as does your time limit. And I'm going to come back to this again and again. It is so important to respect the time limit because this is the way you respect the audience.

They're there listening to you for a certain amount of time and it's also a way you respect your co-presenters because it's not very nice at all if someone takes 20 minutes when they're only given 10 and then you have no time for your presentation and people are walking out of the room. Very important is you need to find out who your audience is going to be. This may take a phone call, it may take a little bit of research, but by understanding who's in that room is it like-minded epidemiologists like myself or are they basic biologists? It's so critical to understand this because this really changes how you're going to tell your story.

And furthermore, when all of this is going on there can be a lot of back and forth communication. Don't ever hesitate to reach out and write to the organizers and ask these questions. And additionally, if you're given a topic or a title, if you're given a talk, you know what? You have the room to negotiate.

You can always say, oh that's a great suggestion, but I think it could be better if. Don't hold back because everybody wants the same outcome which is a good conference. And this is the key part.

You need to find your story. You need to answer. You have to say what is the so what? You've done all this work, you're going to share it, but so what? You have to make it relevant and important for the people sitting in the room.

So fine, you go through those steps. What comes next? You need to map out your storyline. You can do it on the computer, you can go back to a piece of paper, the back of an envelope.

There's multiple ways of doing this. But the key message here is what are you going to say that leads to the takeaway message? You need to go into the design of your talk knowing what you want your audience to understand when they walk away. You need to evaluate the content.

By this I mean you know the story you want to tell, you know the takeaway message. You have to ask yourself which elements are critical, which are useful, and which can be skipped. You don't have to show every last detail.

That's what a paper is for. You don't have to show every last element in a table or a graph. This is not the format.

You need to really consider what does the audience need to see to believe what you're saying. And furthermore, you need to plan your visuals. Always keeping in mind the format, the time limit, and the audience.

And by this I mean if you're speaking to a group of people who do the exact same type of work that you do, you can show graphs in one way, you can use acronyms in another way. But if you're speaking to a group of people who don't work necessarily in your same field, and this is the most common thing that occurs, you need to really take the time to think what do you need to explain? Because there's nothing more challenging as an audience member than sitting there listening to all sorts of acronyms that you don't understand, seeing plots that you're not familiar with. So it's really thinking through and putting the time in in the preparation so that you can achieve your goals.

Key to any sort of presentation, be it on a poster or an oral presentation, is visual imagery. And you know, the perception of visual images is a scientific discipline unto itself. So this is not something that we have to figure out as obesity researchers.

Other people are out there doing it for us. So we can use the findings from their research to improve our communication techniques. So when it comes down to it, there's certain basic elements of a presentation.

There's the content. I leave that to you. There's no saying what's right or wrong.

You're the expert in your area. But again, with the content, you need to think through what do you want the audience to walk away with? How do you make your findings relevant for them? Now to get there, I can help you out a bit. Because there's certain mechanics of a presentation that never change.

These include the font, the color, and the layout. Furthermore, there's certain elements for the presentation that never change. These are consistency, clarity, and cohesiveness.

So let's work our way through these. Fonts. You probably don't think a lot about them.

I can't say that I do myself. But nonetheless, I know there's two different types out there. We have serif.

And serif has little lines extending from the letters, kind of the little feet on the letter A there. And we have sans serif, which means there's no little feet and no little lines. Now again, depending upon your purpose, this is going to decide which font you will choose to use.

When it comes to written English anyways, written language, when it's in small print, serif fonts are really good. However, when it comes to a presentation, sans serif fonts are preferred. It's because it's a cleaner look, it's less ink for the eye to process, and it just smooths out the picture.

Font choices matter. We all have PowerPoint. We all know there's hundreds of different kinds fonts out there.

And again, each of these fonts is really conveying a type of message onto itself. For example, would you have a high level of professionalism and add to your credibility if you're using the Comic Sans font? It looks a little bit childish. So I'm going to make it really easy.

When it comes down to it, we're back to the sans serif fonts, and there's lots of choices. Arial, Tahoma, Calibri. It doesn't really matter.

That's up to your preference. But it's really aiming for this streamlined look and font size. Again, when you're giving a talk, you want to convey your message.

And you know at conferences and you know at meetings that essentially people are tired. They're sitting there listening to talk after talk after talk. Sometimes the projectors aren't as good as we wish they can be.

Sometimes the rooms are so huge, you're really far away from the screen. So if you're ever up on stage and you find yourself saying, I know this is small and you might not be able to read it, but well, guess what? It is too small. As a presenter, if you really want to effectively tell your story, it is always worthwhile to consider the font sizes that you're using so that your audience can actually read what you're presenting.

So when it comes to this, there's some pretty standard rules. When you're talking about a presentation, you typically don't go above 40 point font for an oral presentation on a PowerPoint slide. If we kind of look at this, you know, it goes all the way up from 40 down to font size 8. And can you actually see this? You're not trying to test the eyesight of your audience.

So there's recommendations. Anything 16 and above is okay, but anything 14 and below is just not recommended. It's just too difficult to see.

This is again for oral presentations. If we're talking about poster presentations, there's a slightly different rule. It's called the 10 by 10.

It means your audience who's walking by needs to see the main message in 10 seconds from 10 feet away or three meters away. So that means those letters have to be really, really big. I'm not going to go too much into posters because as you know, many of us have templates which are mandated by organizations.

So some of our flexibility is quite limited. But nonetheless, when it comes to font size, there are also recommendations for posters. For the titles, it should be at least 72 point font.

Ideally, it should be 80 point. Headings should be 48 point. And as a firm rule, no text should be less than 24 point font.

You want to ensure the readability of your message. Another element of a presentation is color. Now we know that PowerPoint gives us numerous options.

Everybody loves color. It's exciting. And science is exciting too.

But it doesn't need quite as much color as sometimes we think it does. It's really important to use color sparingly. And less is more.

Use it for emphasis. There's all sorts of choices we can make. And the key thing about colors is we have to use them wisely.

Colors have meaning. We have natural associations with certain types of colors that kind of play into our minds. And if you flip-flop these when you're giving a presentation, you could actually inadvertently confuse people.

So again, use the color sparingly and use it wisely. And furthermore, it's really important to remember to use colors with caution. The reason why is projection and print fidelity isn't always there.

By this, I mean what you see on your computer screen does not look the same on a projection screen. What you see on a printout does not look the same on a full-size printed poster. So sticking to the basic colors is always a really good idea.

It's a way of playing it safe and conveying your imagery effectively. And again, it's also important to realize that people have visual impairments. This can range from just difficulties in distinguishing edges to color blindness.

So bearing this in mind, it's really important to keep color to a minimum and use it for emphasis. When it comes to the layout of a presentation, there's a lot of information we can pack on the slides. But again, you're not there to overwhelm your audience.

You are there to get your main message home. And if you're giving a talk or standing by and presenting a poster, you're supposed to be using your words. So on a screen, it's really important to use text sparingly.

People can go and read the manuscript for the greater details, or they can talk to you afterwards. So whenever you're making a slide, it's highly recommended that you only use three main points per slide. And whenever possible, make a graph.

You know a picture's worth a thousand words? So is a graph. There's table rules. Ideally, you should use less than 12 cells.

And actually, if you can, it should be less than nine. So when you're thinking about what you need to present from a table, there's one set of information that needs to go into a manuscript. We all understand that.

But when you're giving an oral presentation, or even when you're presenting a poster, every single element is not necessary. You know, you can always retype out a table rather rapidly, and you could really just highlight the key parts of the table that you need to make your point. And when you're making tables, when you're going to present them, it's not a good idea to use full grid lines.

And by that, I mean every single cell marked out of the box. A few vertical lines, horizontal lines even, a few horizontal lines really help you make the point more effectively. And what you're doing is you're not overloading the audience's eyes with too much extraneous information.

And again, when it comes to tables, I cannot emphasize enough, always think carefully about what information you need to show. And always take the time, I highly recommend anyways, to at least increase the font size and really, really limit it down. And you need to carefully plan your visuals.

So there's a lot of different ways to tell every story that you need to. But again, less is more. We're all constantly overloaded with imagery.

So when you're trying to plan out your study or your presentation, it's really key to show exactly what's necessary and nothing more. When it comes to presentation design considerations, especially with this part of the layout, there's a lot of different things to think about. Now, we all work at different institutions and many of our institutions have templates.

Some are good, some are not what I would recommend. But when the key thing is using these, oftentimes it creates space limitations. So if you find yourself trying to squish a graph down or really, really reduce text because the other elements are so large, well then maybe you can consider, and of course, make sure you don't violate policy.

What I typically do now is I keep the beginning and the end slide using my institutional template. And in between slides, I go for something very plain. And the reason why is this way, I have the space that I need to share the information I wish to.

I'm not constrained by losing certain parts of my slide. And well, if you happen to change institutions or your institution changes their template, you're not stuck trying to recreate all the slides you've made across your career. So I find it both a time saver, but also as a design element I use to really hone in on the message I want to share with the audience.

Microsoft is great. All of these presentation softwares are great. There's a lot of different automatic templates out there.

They're exciting, but again, they can actually distract away from your message. It's a good idea to use them sparingly, maybe if you really want to pop out a point, but just don't take them automatically because they look interesting and exciting. Always consider, is this adding to what I want the message to be or is it distracting? And again, the same story goes with pictures.

They're great. They're exciting, but are they helping deliver your message? If you're showing a picture of, you know, children engaged in activity, is your audience focusing on that or are they focusing on the important facts you want them to about what they may mean for their health or something like that? So always consider, are you just putting in for window dressing to make it look pretty or is it adding to the message? And finally, whenever you're doing a presentation, contrast is key. So especially when you're projecting slides black and white, even if it's a bit boring, it actually works really well and so does blue and yellow.

So even if they're a bit old fashioned, they still project really well and they deliver the optimal contrast that actually makes it easier on your audience to process the images you're sharing. And consistency. This is another element that you can easily do across your presentations.

It's a small one, but it's actually really important. Text case. So as you're writing out your text, you have choices you can make.

There's two main formats we're going to discuss today. One is sentence case and the other is title case. Sentence case, the capital letter at the beginning of the sentence and proper nouns are capitalized.

So names and places, etc. In title case, you capitalize any word which is important. A noun, a verb, a place.

You have to make a lot of choices. The key with this is be consistent in your choice and I will highly recommend to use sentence case because it's way easier. You don't have to make capitalization decisions.

But again, this consistency, you're running another thread throughout your presentation where people know what to expect with the next slide. They are easily moving their eyes across the screen. So it's a small thing, but it really adds to the clarity of your message.

And cohesiveness. You need to keep your goal in mind. Always use a consistent theme, design, and visuals.

I know it's exciting to change things up with different templates, but you know, you only have anywhere from seven to maybe 30 minutes, 40 minutes to get your message across the audience. You really want them to focus in on what you want them to know. By using this kind of consistency, it actually makes it easier for them to process the imagery.

You need to make sure that your content links to a common story. So again, it's thinking through what you're weaving throughout your entire presentation with a goal in mind. What do you want your audience to take away? So taking too many detours isn't actually going to help you.

And it's also incredibly important to use a clear narrative structure. Use informative titles. Help signpost along the way.

And use nice transitions between your slides. That just means speaking towards what's coming next. And again, I can't emphasize this enough.

Focused content. You are the expert in the area. You don't have to prove that to your audience by talking about every single detail of the study you performed.

It's much better that you hone in on one or two key areas and let the questions come. Share the manuscript later. You can't overload the audience with too much information.

Because remember, your goal is to effectively deliver your main message. And of course, another important element is clarity. Be it a visual presentation or be it a graphical presentation or a poster presentation.

It doesn't really matter. Graphs are the way to go. There's different types of graphs.

And of course, these are determined by the data that you have at hand. You know, you would categorical data fall very naturally into bar charts, continuous data, line charts, and so many other options in between. When you're making these types of charts, pie charts or donut charts have gotten a little bit fancier over time.

They're not the best technique to share information. So just keep that in mind. Color.

Again, less is more. Just use it to really highlight the key points. It's not recommended that you ever use more than six colors in a graph because it's just too much for the mind to visually process.

If I was in the situation where I had to show that many lines, I would keep as many of them black or gray as possible and pop one out in red or green or blue, whatever suited the story I was telling the best. And patterns. We have endless choices as well.

But again, it's really important to use these sparingly because they can actually create optical illusions. Whenever you're putting a presentation together, put yourself in the seat of an audience member. You know, you've been there for a long day, a lot of talks, maybe a little bit tired, and having something up on a screen with lots of different patterns where you're trying to think, oh, am I looking at point A or B? It's not the best way to get your message across effectively.

And lines. Always try to use at least 1.5 line thickness and try to avoid dotted or dashed lines. They're just more difficult for the eye to process.

So now it's on to my favorite part. In case you haven't caught on, I really like graphs. Graphs have some key elements.

They're pretty simple. They're pretty straightforward, but they take a lot of time and thought. There's always the title, the axis labels, data, and the legend.

Really basic elements. The key here is how you put them together. So here we have a fake graph in front of us.

The key elements are we have an informative title. So whatever you're showing here, make sure the title lets the audience know. We have the x-axis with a unit of measurement.

So it's not sufficient just to say age. Well, age could be expressed in many different ways. Put in years or months or days in brackets so your audience knows what you're talking about.

And the y-axis. You need a unit of measurement or whatever statistical outcome it is. Again, put it over there.

And if you have 95% confidence intervals, also mention those. Because the idea of the graph is even if you're not there to explain it, even if you're not there to walk the audience through it, then they can get a really good idea of what you're talking about. So again, this is a basic made-up graph that looks pretty simple.

There's actually a lot of design elements and considerations in this. And this, what I'm going to tell you next, is so important to me. And it's actually taught to me by my PhD supervisor, Professor Kathy Rasmussen.

So this is the kind of thing that doesn't change. So what we have here, on the x-axis and the y-axis, the font size should be at least 24 point to get really good projection and really good visibility. And this is sized optimally for presentations.

Of course, if you're making graphs or publication, there's slightly different elements that can be moved around, but the proportions remain the same. Font size, minimum of 18 for your category labels or your tick mark labels. And again, keep it the same on each of the axes.

The x and y-axis should be in the same size font. The x and y tick labels should be in the same size font. And we all know that we run into the problem where sometimes the tick labels are too long.

The words have to be squished, abbreviated, put on angles. You can work it out and you can figure it out, but it's just really key to try to keep these the same. And then, of course, we have tick marks.

Now, if you read the books on how to make a graph, and there are books out there, remember this is a scientific discipline, it is said that tick marks should face inwards. I know this is such a seemingly minor little point, but it has a function. It helps draw the eye inwards to the data.

In other words, it helps draw the eye inwards to the message you're trying to convey. And, of course, graphs need legends. Whatever it may be, the font size should be 16 to 18.

Again, try to maximize the visibility and understanding of the information you're sharing. Now, these are the basic elements of a graph, but another really key thing is that you take the time to explain your graph to the audience. So, I'm going to work you through one example.

So, once upon a time, we did a study. We found that childhood BMI is associated with coronary heart disease. So, as you can see in this graph, the blue dots are for boys, and we can see there's different ages and hazard ratios.

And essentially, what we can see is the higher the BMI, the higher the risk of coronary heart disease. You shouldn't do it that way. That is not taking the time to walk your audience through the graph.

It's going really quickly. It's assuming they have the same level of knowledge about this particular type of graph that you do. So, let's back up.

So, today, I'm going to explain to you if we can do it better, and we can always do better. Even myself, the more presentations we give, the better we get. We examined whether or not childhood BMI was associated with coronary heart disease in the population of Danish school children.

What we did was we looked at children from the ages from 7 to 13 years, and you can see age on the x-axis. On the y-axis is the hazard ratio, which illustrates the association between BMI at each of these different ages and the risk of adult coronary heart disease. At the line of 1, you can see a dashed line.

Because we're looking at hazard ratios, it's important to bear in mind that if we see the point estimate for these associations above the dotted line, it means there's an increased risk. If the point estimate is below the line, it means it's a decreased risk. And we look at these pictures, if we see the confidence intervals around these point estimates cross that dotted line at 1, it means they're not statistically significant.

So, in our work, what we found, as illustrated in this graph, you can see that all the point estimates and confidence intervals are above the dotted line at 1, meaning the higher the BMI, the higher the risk of coronary heart disease. Because these are point estimates, it means these associations are linear. So, simply put, the higher the BMI, the higher the risk of disease.

If we focus in for a second and look at the age of 13 years, this point estimate tells us that for two boys of the same height, one boy who has a 1c score higher BMI, which equates to about 5.2 kilograms, has a 17% increased risk of coronary heart disease. The higher the BMI, the higher the risk. Now, you can see it's the same graph, but if you take the time to walk your audience through it point by point, try to put your results into perspective, because the way in which things like this are presented aren't intuitive to everybody, you're actually going to be more effective in getting your messaging across.

And sometimes I even put the takeaway message in a box to the right of the graph, because we know people may be looking at phones, they may be looking around, and they may miss some of the explanations. So, I try to make it as easy as possible for my audience to understand what I'm trying to tell them. So, onto a few presentation tips.

It may seem really simple and really obvious. The best thing you can do is smile. If you go out there with a smile on your face, you start projecting confidence.

And if you smile, people smile back. It's much nicer to give a presentation to people where they're looking at you and smiling, even if they don't like what you're saying. That's not the point.

You are portraying the positivity. It also enhances your own confidence. It's really, really key that you make eye contact with the audience.

It just enhances that connection. It also really opens people up to asking questions if they feel like you are paying attention to them, and that, you know, that you might want to hear their opinions. It's really key to stand tall.

I know that giving a presentation isn't always fun. I know it can be incredibly stressful. But if you stand tall, you are forcing yourself in a way to just project that you know what you're doing.

Because never forget that you are the expert in your area. And try to avoid fidgeting. If we get nervous, oftentimes we start to shift a little bit from side to side.

Not a great idea. If you can hold yourself still, you are immediately enhancing your professionalism and also your confidence. And the audience buys into this.

Do not read 100% from your slides or your notes. You're there to tell a story. If this is what you need to get up there and do, your audience could have just as well read the manuscript.

I know it's hard. But you know, this is why you practice. And always look at audience questions as an opportunity for learning.

I know we oftentimes dread them, and of course I've been there. We don't always see it this way. Oftentimes we go into a talk and we're afraid of what we're going to be asked.

Luckily, there's a few tips, you know, a few things you can say. And if things really get tough, often speak further with a questioner after the presentation. It's a nice way of shutting down something before it turns a little bit too awkward for the audience.

And always remember, it's not on you as the presenter necessarily to control what's going on. That's why there's chairs for sessions. And of course, always remember how it feels to be on this side of the podium, so to speak, or in the audience.

So when you're sitting in the audience, well, do be polite and do be respectful when you answer your questions. You know, there's no need to show how intelligent you are by asking a question that really puts the presenter on a spot and doesn't make them look good. There's no need to do that.

You can go discuss something afterwards and have a nice scientific discussion without making somebody feel bad. And a couple of words about the hybrid formats. We're coming into a neat time where poster pitches are being elevated, because for many, many years posters were kind of shoved in the corner and nobody really came by and talked to you.

Things have changed. So now there's poster pitches, there's guided posters, and there's teasers. When you're given this really short format, oftentimes called the elevator pitch, you need to know your main point.

This doesn't differ than giving a big presentation. It just means everything has to go on hyperspeed and become really distilled down because you can't speak in hyperspeed. Your audience won't take your main points.

So key here is why does your work matter and what is the so what? How is this relevant to your audience? Use a graph or a picture. It goes so much faster than trying to describe things in details. Always try to minimize the text.

And again, less is more. So make it a teaser. You don't have to tell everybody every single result.

You know, invite people to talk to you. Invite them to come and speak to you afterwards to find out what you actually found. And I just saw a really good technique that I've learned from a couple weeks ago up in Helsinki at the Nordic Obesity Meeting.

You know, advertise where to find you. Put your poster number nice and big on that one slide that you get. Next to your teaser graph and say, come find me.

Let's discuss. I'm happy to share. It was so effective and was really in the spirit of what a teaser should be.

It's an advertisement. You're trying to pull your audience in. So with this, let's put it all together.

Key to this is a good presentation takes time to prepare. You cannot just make it the night before because there's so many considerations as we've talked about. It's really thinking how to get your audience to where you need them to be in the time and the format that you have.

And it's not fast. You need to practice getting the timings and the pitch right for your audience. Again, are you speaking to people who work in your field directly or is it a broader audience? And timings, you know, the more you give talks, the easier it becomes, but it's still not perfect.

And of course, as we all know, practice makes perfect. So definitely reach out to your colleagues and definitely practice on them because it's going to enhance your confidence, which in turn, when you give your talk, will enhance your professionalism and your credibility. And always really, really key, check the equipment and the setting that you're going to be giving your talk in ahead of time.

Because as we all know, going from computer A to computer B, things can happen. The wrong talks can be loaded up. You know, sometimes the pointers run out of batteries, microphones don't have batteries, on and on and on.

And in fact, even today, when I transferred from computer A to computer B, parts of my slides disappeared. So it's always so important to run through that double check. So the takeaway messages for today, adhere to the time limits and the format.

It's a sign of respect for the audience, it's a sign of respect for the organizers, and it's also a sign of respect for the chairs. And of course, you need to, as a scientist, effectively get your message across in the time you have allowed. Pitch your presentation to your audience.

If they're experts, give it one way. If they're a wider variety of experts, do it another way. It's really a way of showing your audience and encouraging them to learn from you and walking them through your messaging.

Again, narrow your message down and present it clearly. And this is an iterative process. It doesn't happen at once.

As you map your storyline out, you may think the detail is critical. By the time you've worked it through, maybe it's just not so necessary. But really, the ultimate thing here is, enjoy telling your story and enjoy sharing your research, because it's such a great opportunity to get your message out and to really shine for all the hard work that you've done.

And with that, I'll say thank you very much for your attention, and I'll stop sharing my screen. All right. Thank you so much, Jennifer.

I think my face is lost. But anyway, thank you so much for an exemplary presentation on how to present. I really thought it was refreshing to see such a clean and clear presentation, and nicely within your schedule time.

So thank you. Does anyone have any questions? Please, if you do, you can raise your virtual hand and unmute yourself. There we go.

I'm back. Let's see if we got any questions in the chat. So, we have one question that says, what do you think about AI-generated presentations by websites like Canva for scientific presentations? AI can't replace us just yet.

I think what it does is it learns from good and from bad. And what I find, I mean, I've checked them out. I've tried them.

I think they add too many design elements, the type of presentations that we do. Maybe they weren't great for other formats, for consulting work or something like that, but I really believe in keeping it to a minimum and really focusing on your messaging. And sometimes those can become so fancy with lots of extra words and lots of extra details.

So, you can be inspired by them, but I would certainly look at them with a critical eye. Yeah. Yeah.

Fair. Okay. Then we have another question.

What do you think about QR codes linked to, for example, publications in your slides? Is it useful or is it distracting? I think used cautiously, it can be really nice. I would typically be inclined to put them at the end of the presentation so they don't distract from the message, but we typically close a presentation with a thank you and acknowledgement slide. I think, you know, a nice QR code or two there would be a really good idea.

That's just my opinion. You know, you can do what you like. There's no right or wrong here.

It's whatever you're comfortable with. And if that QR code helps tell your story, fantastic. By all means, keep it there in the middle of the presentation.

Oh, Lisa. Yeah. You have a question.

Thanks, Jen, for the excellent presentation. I just wanted to ask if you had any advice on what things to kind of look out for in terms of your target audience when you're developing your presentation. You might have, you know, a presentation on your work, but you might have to look out for different kind of things that your target audience are looking for, depending on where you're going to present.

I wonder if you had any advice on the step by step approach for that. Well, it's a really good question, Lisa, because working in obesity research, we're often invited to conferences based on cardiology or type 2 diabetes, where it's a different experience to walk in where you've sat through several days of lectures with very stigmatising imagery and non people first language. So I'm luckily at a career stage where I can walk in and show my slides and do what I do.

But it can also be really daunting if you're more early in your career. So I think holding true to the principles is a good idea. But if I'm giving a talk to a cardiology audience, for example, I think of my positive imagery.

So I do as much as I can that way, subtly sneak it in. I show links to useful resources. And I, of course, will play up the elements they find more interesting.

So if I'm giving a talk to cardiologists, I'll talk a bit more about atherosclerotic processes, tying a bit more mechanistically to what the different audiences are interested in. And that's how I sort of pitch my talks differently, even if it's all based on the same study. And again, if it was to endocrinologists, I would play a few other elements instead.

So that's what I mean by pitching it. You always have a different angle in your work. You can just find it and tailor it a little bit more to make it more relevant.

Because if you just get up there and talk about something so far from anybody's field, be it basic biologist or whatever, you're not going to draw them in. So that's how I would approach it. There's no right or wrong.

And there's no, it's so situation dependent, but it's worthwhile to think through anyways. And sometimes you just can't change it. And that's just how it is.

Right. Anyone else would like to ask a question? I was wondering, do you have some advice, let's say, in a week, the early career researchers here will get their abstracts accepted on when to start? And what is the wise way to approach this, their first presentation at ICO in May? Well, first of all, be really excited because it's a great audience you're going to be presenting to. They're really interested in your work and they're really interested in being supportive.

So that's the baseline. It's not something that's going to take months on end. It's something that you just have to plan for.

You have to think through what do you want the audience to take away when you're done giving your talk? What do you want them to know they didn't know before you went up on stage and then work your way backwards? And of course, depending upon how much you like giving presentations, if English is your first language or not, you need to give yourself more time so that you feel comfortable with your material and so that you know your material. And again, do your best not to read off the notes too much or read the slides completely. And by practicing and thinking about it, you will actually move away from that.

And sometimes, you know, if you really are feeling a little bit too nervous about it, sometimes a couple little notes on your hand actually help. So that's a little trick where you can look, oh, yes, and you can say something and nobody sees you looking at your notes because it can only be really brief. And of course, wash your hands really quickly afterwards.

But that's how I would approach it. Thank you so much, Jennifer. I think we will start to wrap up.

And thank you once again for for joining us today and sharing your expertise. I would just like to give some general notes. So we host these e-learning webinars so that we can share knowledge and develop skills.

And, you know, the ECN is free to join and so are these webinars. So if you know anyone else who would benefit from this, please do invite them. We do benefit a lot from your feedback.

So if you could just fill in the form that is in the chat, that would be great. That would really help us improve the platform. And we are supported by an unrestricted educational grant from Boehringer Ingelheim.

I would just like to say that next time will be on the 19th of March and we will have Dr. Jimena Ramos-Salas on person first language, weight bias and its impact on research. So make sure to tune in for that one. And in the meanwhile, follow us on social media so you can find us on LinkedIn and on Twitter.

And with that, I would like to thank you all for coming today and have a lovely evening. Thank you so much. Bye.

Thank you. Thank you. Bye.

Bye. Thank you. Bye.